WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A teenager accused of bludgeoning his parents with a hammer before hosting a party at their home signs jailhouse autographs exclaiming “It’s hammer time,” calls himself “hammer boy,” and says he has seen and talked to the devil, a fellow inmate told police.
The inmate, Justin Toney, described 18-year-old Tyler Hadley’s jailhouse fame in interviews outlined in investigative files released by prosecutors.
Hadley has pleaded not guilty in the bludgeonings last July of Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley. Toney told investigators that Hadley is known as “Hambo” and “Bamm-Bamm” by other inmates and that he has given autographs, including some on news articles about his case.
Every time a new inmate is admitted, Toney said in the Feb. 21 interview, Hadley makes an introduction.
“What’s up man?” Toney quoted Hadley as saying. “You know who I am? I’m the hammer boy.”
The inmate says Hadley has given differing accounts of why he allegedly committed the crimes. First, he said, Hadley blamed it on medication he was on. Later, though, he said Hadley explained it was because he wanted to have a party and knew his parents wouldn’t let him.
“All this to have a party?” Detective Kristin Meyer of the Port St. Lucie Police asked. “That’s what he said,” Toney replied.
Toney said Hadley told him he’d been contemplating the killings for about three weeks and had considered using a garden tool instead.
“He said he seen the devil,” Toney said. “He said he talked to the devil and the devil talked to him.”
Still, there are glimpses of a different Hadley in the files. Toney said Hadley would sometimes bring him a ramen noodle cup, and often expressed remorse for his alleged crimes. In a log of a jailhouse visit with his older brother, Ryan, Hadley tells his brother he loves him and tells him to tell others he says hello and loves them too. Kelly Reynolds, who was interviewed by police but whose relationship to Hadley wasn’t made clear, said he was an altar boy.
Hadley’s public defender, Mark Harllee, did not return a call Friday seeking comment.
Hadley told a friend interviewed by police, Daniel Roberts, that his father had punched him in the face several times and had shown signs of injuries at times, according to the files. But Toney said Hadley told him he’d never been beaten or molested, and Ryan Hadley called his parents “awesome” and his brother a “pathological liar.”
Police have said about 60 people gathered for a party at Hadley’s house after his parents were killed, playing beer pong, smoking cigars and drinking. Friends described Hadley as being in a good mood and hospitable.
Toney said Hadley claimed to have spent $2,000 on drugs and alcohol for the party, describing it as “so much fun.” He said Hadley knew he had “shocked the world” and realized something about his parents as he allegedly attacked them with a hammer.
“I said, ‘Did they try to stop you?’” Toney asked about the attack. “And he was like, ‘No, that’s how I knew that they really loved me.’”